lunedì 17 aprile 2017

SIMENON SIMENON. THE CANNES FILM FESTIVAL 1960

How the writer played havoc with the gold medal selection process 

SIMENON SIMENON. LE FESTIVAL DE CANNES 1960 
Comment l’écrivain a bouleversé le processus de sélection de la Palme d’Or 
SIMENON SIMENON. LE FESTIVAL DI CANNES 1960
Come lo scrittore ha ribaltato il processo di selezione della Palma d' Oro 

Although Simenon left Cannes for Switzerland permanently in 1957, “the ambiance in Cannes in May had always excited him to the highest degree,” according to Pierre Assouline. In particular, the annual Cannes Film Festival “satisfied his taste for back-stage-scenes and even more his voyeuristic instinct.” So, when Simenon was offered the presidency of the festival jury in 1960, it sounds as though he leapt at the chance to “not miss a single bit of the spectacle, the real one, the one that others do not see.”

That 13th festival ran for 16 days and required jurists fit 29 full-length films in-between the parties. Simenon presided over a group of 11, including 3 other authors, the most represented occupation. A lack of engagement was apparently prominent within the jury, Simenon included. Indeed, the president seemed more interested in the “young actresses” than the “films.” The festival directors wondered about their presidential choice and worried about him being able to conduct a quality vote. Their concerns were well founded.
In fact, Simenon fought openly with the directors and persisted stubbornly, as he told it, in doing my job and not listening to what one or the other said to me.” He not only turned this same deaf ear to many jurors, but he also resorted to behind the scenes negotiations to do this “job.” One backroom anecdote describes how, lacking a single vote to elect his preference as the winner, Simenon obtained cooperation from Henry Miller, the fellow author he personally had recruited, while they were playing Ping-Pong. Miller simply offered: “Tell me whom you want me to vote for.” 
In fact, there was intense opposition to La Dolce Vita, Simenon’s choice, right up to the last moment, including predictions it would not win. As a resultwhile the president announced his winner, he had to overcome whistling (the European form of booing), jeering, and taunting by both public and critics alike. Here’s how the man himself later on described the uproar: “When I read the prize list at the closing session, I was booed more than abundantly while only a few applauded, feeling almost ashamed to be the exception.” 
Recent Googling uncovered many after the fact observations extending right up to current times that are, in general, critical of Simenon’s conduct. Scandal at the Cannes Film Festival has been common, but some consider his presidential product “the most scandalous ever.” One critic contended that Simenon “caused a scandal” because in particular “he campaigned against his jury members in favor oLa Dolce Vita.” In a flashback from 2014 to the chaotic awards ceremony of 1960, a movie critic for Vanity Fair labeled the jury’s president a “Belgian clone of Casanova and indicated “Federico Fellini received the Gold Medal for La Dolce Vitathanks to his friend [my underlining] Georges Simenon.” Another agreed that Fellini “owed” his medal to Simenon. 
Given all the brouhaha, during and after, it comes as no surprise to read that Simenon added this considered footnote to the story: “People never asked me to preside over a jury again and I was relieved.” 

David P Simmons 

8888 

En 1960, Federico Fellini reçoit la Palme pourLa Dolce Vita, grâce à son ami Georges Simenon (un clone belge de Casanova) qui préside le jury. Un triomphe qui fait des mécontents : cette peinture de la société décadente des années 50, de l’aristocratie fasciste et de la noblesse pontificale est huée par le public, la voix de Simenon couverte par des sifflets à roulette tandis que Gulietta Massinal’épouse de Fellini, sanglote en coulisses. 
The award offended the Vatican 
Ce chef-d’œuvre est aussi honni par le Vatican qui jugecertaines scènesblasphématoires. Le bruit court même que le pape veut condamner l’actrice Anita Ekberg pour port illégal de la soutane (on la voit nue sous la robe sacerdotale), alors que les jésuites qui défendent le film sont sanctionnés. Sur la porte d’une église de Padoue, on peut lire cette inscription : « Prions pour le salut de l’âme de Federico Fellini, pécheur public ». 

Scandal GS: 

Georges Simenon, président du jury en 1960, fit également scandale, mais autrement. Non seulement il milita contre ses jurés afin que la palme revînt àLa Dolce Vita, de Fellini, qui l’avait enthousiasmé, et ne l’emporta que d’une voix après avoir convaincu entre deux parties de ping-pong l’écrivain Henry Miller de voter comme lui, mais il dut affronter la bronca du public et les lazzis d’une partie de la critique lors de la remise des prix. Cette consécration marqua le début de la gloire de Fellini et scella son indéfectible amitié avec Simenon. 
Voilà pourquoi, conclut Pierre Assouline, l’absence d’un écrivain est toujours regrettable dans ce jury. Car c’est se priver d’une sensation du monde, d’un point de vue critique original et d’une certaine idée de l’art de raconter des histoires.“ 

Pressreader: 
The most scandalous ever: 

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